A state judge on Wednesday approved an entirely new map of Florida’s 40 Senate districts that was recommended by a coalition of voting rights groups. The decision is yet another political and legal setback for the Republican-controlled Legislature and adds much more political uncertainty with the next session less than two weeks away and at the dawn of a presidential election year. “This is another great result for our clients but also a great result for every voter in the state of Florida,” said David King, the lead attorney for the plaintiffs. King said voters will elect senators and members of Congress from constitutional districts in the 2016 election, and added: “I’m confident that there are a substantial number of more competitive districts in this map.” The Senate had no immediate comment on Circuit Judge George Reynolds’ order, in which he accepted a map recommended by the League of Women Voters, Common Cause and other plaintiffs. Reynolds’ 73-page ruling orders the Senate to randomly assign district numbers to all 40 districts within three days of a final judgment being entered.
The court-approved map, known as CPS-4a, can be viewed here on the League of Women Voters’ web site.
The judge rejected an alternate map, known as Senate Map 1, that the Senate offered to the court but which was never voted on in a November special session. Reynolds cited the “conflicting roles” of Sen. Bill Galvano, the Bradenton Republican who offered the revised map, serves as Senate majority leader and is chairman of Senate Republican campaigns for 2016, in which GOP success is directly tied to Galvano’s own plan to be Senate president in 2018.